They Call Me The Specialist
The further we get into the 30 game USL season, the more we have gotten to see different tactical looks for Saint Louis FC. With every weakness the team has encountered so far, there has been a direct tactical response. These tactical responses, especially the successful ones, have exposed different players’ strengths and weaknesses. I believe that as we see Coach Dale Schilly respond to different situations that arise in games throughout the season, we’ll see him refine and perfect situational subbing.
Mike Ambersley. STL Soccer Report has posted some scathing remarks about Mike in the past, but while he struggled to make his mark early in the season, his skills have been shining through as of late. Ambo shines in possession, but lacks the speed and defensive skills to allow Richard Dixon to shine in overlap and direct play. Mike has been key in unlocking a bunkered defense—something I worried the team might never figure out after a home draw against Tulsa Roughnecks FC. When the other team is bunkered in, Ambersley doesn’t need to run back and forth the whole time. His main job is to unlock the defense with witty passing, good runs, and even a good finish or two. That said, I think we look more dangerous in the first half with Tshuma (injured lately) on the left teamed up with Doody or Maher, and defensively adept Barklage teamed up with the speedy Dixon on the right (for more detail, see this History & Blood Editorial).
Jacob Bushue. You put him in to shut down the opposing attack. He can play multiple positions, puts in a high intensity shift, and adds more defensive might in a position that may have been tilted more toward the attacking side—think overlapping fullback or attack minded winger.
Jordan Roberts. This is an untested, new development, but one that looks promising so far. And by promising I mean dangerous. Jordan excels at 1v1 encounters, which makes him a dominant matchup for a fullback on the wing. He’s fast and nimble, with a great eye for shot placement. In a recent interview with the Louligans on the “This Is Silly” podcast, goalkeeper Mark Pais named Jordan as one of the more tricky and clinical finishers on the team. At this point, Jordan isn’t a starter, but is a great impact sub in a game where we want another goal and the opposing defense is tiring.
Honorable mentions: Jamiel Hardware and Kentaro Takada. These guys seem to do their best work in possession as well. While they can most definitely be used in the starting lineup, these guys don’t always shine throughout a match. Jamiel can maneuver a ball around multiple defenders for what seems like minutes without being dispossessed. You can also tell which attacking players he’s been able to work out better chemistry with in his passing. He never falls short in determination. Just last night he got an unassisted goal against Whitecaps 2 when he recovered his own rebound. Takada shined along side Hardware in the Open Cup. He, too, seems to have a magnetic relationship with the ball and really excels at calming play and picking out attackers.
It’s still early enough in the season that we still haven’t even seen what many of our guys can do, so let’s all keep an eye out for strengths and weaknesses--not only to enjoy a good tactical conversation on what the coaching staff should be doing, but to really point out the right moves they are making. -PG
photo by Will Bramlett http://www.workinthemorning.com